Child-abuse police cut senior officers to make "better use of money"

20 Sep 2013
Child protection

CEOP claims it did boost staffing levels - by ditching those at the top

CEOP’s deputy chief executive, Andy Baker, has admitted the organisation ditched some of its most experienced officers to make way for junior members of staff.

Baker told PC Pro that CEOP cut the number of chief superintendents from five to two, freeing up money to hire more people at a junior level.

"It was about making better use of money," he said. "We reduced the number of chief superintendents from five to two, so three chief superintendents gives you nine or ten staff. That’s a multiplier."

The news comes after controversy on CEOP’s staffing levels, with prime minister David Cameron and his adviser on the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood, Claire Perry MP, previously claiming a "50% increase in staffing levels" at CEOP.

That figure was disputed at the time by a number of former CEOP executives, including ex-CEO Jim Gamble. And it appears from Baker’s comments that any boost to staffing levels was only possible by ditching expertise at the top.

Baker also denied earlier media claims of a funding gap after CEOP had its budget slashed by 10%, claiming that the restructure was a more efficient use of resources. "There will be more resources - that’s a fact," he said. "Whatever anyone says, there have not been cuts."

Merger with the NCA

CEOP is set to merge with the National Crime Agency on 7 October, becoming the fourth "command" unit alongside economic crime, organised crime and the border police.

Baker wouldn’t provide details on whether the merger meant CEOP would receive more funding, but insisted the move will mean "more officers and more capability". He added that the NCA would open up "more opportunities".

Not everyone agrees – Jim Gamble quit when the merger was announced in 2010 over concerns CEOP would lose its independence. At the time, he claimed the move was "not in the interests of children".

The merger does mean CEOP’s staffing levels will rise to around 170, with 101 core CEOP staffers, 20 full-time employees from partner organisations such as the NSPCC, and an additional 45 embedded NCA officers.

Baker added that the new merged unit would also draw on the technical and operational expertise of a wider pool of NCA staff. But given CEOP’s specialist focus on child-abuse investigations, Baker admitted some of the new recruits would need training.

"There’s a need to upskill some new people we’re recruiting, but they’ve got some tremendous capability and specialisms we can bring to this difficult issue," he said.

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